Ancient History & Civilisation

ANCIENT EGYPT

Introduction

In Ancient Egypt lies a towering, historical treasury; the culture, artistry, customs and architecture of this prominent era remain a global fascination.

The celebrated structures of antiquity such as the pyramids, temples of Karnak and Luxor, Ramesseum, Abu Simbel and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens attest to Ancient Egypt’s preeminent civilization in the Mediterranean region.

This eBook discusses each epoch: the Old, Middle and New Kingdom; the different dynasties and pharaohs that led to either the zenith or nadir of the kingdom; the constant predicaments of invasion, economic crises, famine, religious strife, civil unrest and much besides.

Enriched with a wealth of accounts, the eBook walks you through ancient Egypt, chronicling the events from its dawn to its demise.

CHAPTER I

The Beginning of Ancient Egypt

The early predynastic settlement of the Northern Nile Valley marked the advent of Ancient Egypt. And the Pharaonic period is preceded by the amalgamation of Lower and Upper Egypt, around 3200 BC. 

Book of the Dead spell 17 from the Papyrus of Ani, by Unknown (1275 BC)

Egyptian Dynasties

The Egyptian Historian Manetho, in 300 B.C., wrote a book on Egypt’s history entitled Aegyptiaca. The book enlisted the number of dynasties (reigning families) at thirty. Unfortunately, the original book didn’t endure. However, historians who lived around 70 A.D., such as Josephus have amply cited Manetho in their own works.

Manetho’s thirty dynasties were split into “Kingdoms” by modern scholars. And the times referred to as the “Intermediate Periods” were when the monarchy was partitioned or when chaos reigned over the political and social arena.

Early Dynastic Period—3150BC-2686 B.C.

According to folk tales, the Archaic or Early Dynastic period witnessed the union of the northern and southern kingdoms of Egypt under the ruling of Pharaoh Manes, otherwise known as Menes or Meni. In 3118 B.C., Manes seized the north. After the leadership of the gods, Manes became the first mortal king.

Menes.jpg

Menes (1st Dynastic King of Egypt)

Early accounts of this history originate from the Aegyptical (History of Egypt) by Manetho, an ancient historian. It is only his work that quotes Manes and his conquest. Currently, it is believed that the man Manetho referred to as “Manes” was the PharaohNarmer(the first Pharaoh), who peacefully united the Upper and Lower Egypt and placed it under one kingship. Narmer’s rule extended from the city of Heirakonopolis to Abydos.

Before Upper and Lower Egypt united, there were settlements of self-governing villages, and Egypt was thus known as the Two Lands. Under the Early Dynastic period, trade increased considerably and the Mastaba tombs were established, owing to the extensive funeral practices of the elite.

Cultural Evolution

Around 3600 B.C., the Neolithic Egyptian community’s culture was mainly based on raising crops and domesticating animals. Soon after 3600 B.C., the growing Egyptian populace began to rapidly move towards a refined civilization. During this time, a new and unique pottery began to emerge, and the utilization of copper became extensively widespread. Furthermore, the Mesopotamian procedure of sun-dried bricks and codes of agricultural building became prevalent in the course of this era.

The peasant’s funerary tradition was by and large similar to that of the predynastic times, however, the elite wanted more. The Egyptians therefore started to build the Mastabas, which later became a prototype for the constructions during the Old Kingdom–the Step pyramid being one. The following successful 800 years was possible due to serial agriculture and centralization.

During this period, the Egyptian literature also made great advancement. At first, Egyptian writing had mainly been composed of a small number of symbols illustrating amounts of different substances. It expanded to over 200 symbols by the end of the 3rdDynasty.

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